This is the enthusiast’s class…or at least, the wealthy enthusiast’s class. Its members include some of the fastest cars offered for sale in the U.S., though we draw the line at starting prices of more than $120,000. Those priced above that figure we consider to be “exotics,” which we typically don’t cover.
Considering the cost and focus of this group, there are quite a few contenders. Least expensive is the BMW 2-Series, which starts at about $36,000. At the opposite end are cars like the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 4-door and Porsche 911, which start near $100,000 and reach well beyond that in top-line form.
There are no front-wheel-drive vehicles in this class. The BMW 2-Series and 4-Series, Infiniti Q60, Jaguar F-TYPE, Lexus RC, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT 4-door, and Porsche 911 offer all-wheel drive as an option to rear-wheel drive. The Audi A5, Audi TT, BMW 8-Series, and Nissan GT-R come standard with all-wheel drive.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2020
The Chevrolet Corvette is completely redesigned, making its long-rumored leap from a front-engine layout to a mid-engine design. The all-new “C8” Corvette will start at under $60,000 and come standard with a 495-hp 6.2-liter V8 that can propel it to sub-3-second 0-60 times when properly equipped. The Porsche 911 is also redesigned, kicking off its eighth generation. Reardrive Carrera and Carrera S, and allwheel-drive Carrera 4 and Carrera 4S models in coupe and convertible body styles are available this year. All have a turbo 3.0-liter 6-cylinder—the entry-level “non S” models have 379 horsepower, and the S versions have 443 hp. The new 911 model lineup will almost certainly proliferate with the return of Turbo and GT3 versions in the near future. The Porsche 718 Boxster convertible and 718 Cayman coupe both get new high-performance models: the Boxster Spyder and the Cayman GT4. Both have a 414-hp 4.0-liter 6-cylinder engine in place of 4-cylinder power.
The Audi A5 and S5 coupes and cabriolets are slated to receive a new infotainment system and an exterior styling update that brings a slightly harder-edged, angular look. After its debut last year, the BMW 8-Series lineup grows for 2020; a 6-cylinder-powered 840i model slots in below the existing V8-powered M850i, and a super-performance M8 with a twin-turbo V8 is added as a new line-topping model. The BMW Z4 two-seat roadster line adds a turbo-6-cylinder M40i version above the 4-cylinder sDrive30i model.
The Jaguar F-Type loses its available manual transmission but adds a specially trimmed Checkered Flag Limited Edition model. Lexus’s high-performance RC F models get a limited-production Track Edition model, subtle styling changes, a slight boost in horsepower and torque, and an electronic launch control feature. RC Fs also receive some weight reduction measures and a retuned suspension. Lexus is also planning to add a convertible version of its LC coupe in the near future.
The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT coupe and roadster get updated exterior styling and a refreshed interior, while the AMG GT 4-door coupe gets an optional fixed panoramic sunroof, and the GT 63 S model gets an optional carbon-fiber roof. The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class loses its high-performance AMG SL 63 model, and the SLC-Class enters its swan-song year with specially trimmed Final Edition models. The Nissan GT-R gets a specially trimmed 50th Anniversary edition, and all models get trim updates and new, more-responsive turbochargers. The GT-R NISMO model gets a carbon-fiber roof and hood and carbon-ceramic brakes. The Cadillac ATS coupe is discontinued.
MODELS THAT OFFER SOMETHING UNUSUAL
Since there are no hybrids or diesels in the class, and both coupes and convertibles are well represented, the only standouts are those with unusually powerful engines and those available with all-wheel drive. The latter have already been listed. As for power, a car really has to offer more than 600 hp (!) to “stand out” in this class. Those that do are the BMW M8 and the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4-door.
Vehicles in the Premium Sporty/Performance Car class:
Alfa Romeo 4C
Mercedes-Benz AMG GT
Porsche 718 Boxster
Porsche 718 Cayman